What Is ADHD?
ADHD is a mental health condition that causes problems with attention, hyperactivity and impulsivity. It is common in children and adults, but it does not have to be a lifelong problem. There are treatments that can help people with ADHD learn how to control their symptoms and live better lives.
The first step in diagnosing ADHD is to find out what symptoms are present. This is done by talking with the child, their parents and teachers. The doctor will also want to know about any other medical or mental health conditions the child may have, such as a learning disorder or depression. The doctor will then perform a physical examination, hearing and vision check to make sure that there is nothing else wrong with the child.
If you think your child might have ADHD, talk to their pediatrician. They can help you decide if an evaluation is needed and will be able to provide recommendations.
Your doctor may suggest a behavioral intervention that can help your child focus and control their hyperactivity or impulsivity. These interventions may include limiting choices, helping them to manage distractions and providing clear instructions.
If your child’s hyperactivity, impulsivity and inattention haven’t responded to behavioral interventions, your doctor will prescribe an ADHD medication. These medicines work by increasing the levels of chemicals in the brain, including dopamine and norepinephrine.
These medicines are usually used alone or in combination with other medications to treat the full range of ADHD symptoms. Stimulants, such as methylphenidate (Ritalin) and amphetamine-based stimulants like Adderall, are the most common types of medications.
Non-stimulants, such as atomoxetine (Strattera) and clonidine (Kapvay), are also available and can be very helpful for some people. These medications take a little longer to start working than stimulants, but can improve concentration and control impulsivity.
They are sometimes prescribed when a person has trouble with side effects of stimulants, or to increase their effectiveness. They are also used when a person has tried stimulants but has not had the results they were looking for.
Your doctor will likely ask you and your parent to watch for any side effects. If any seem to get worse, your doctor will try to lower the dose or stop it.
You and your parent will also need to keep track of how you feel after you take the medicine, because a few days or weeks will pass before your doctor notices any changes. They will then adjust your medicine and your schedule based on how well it is working for you or your child.
If you are taking an ADHD medicine, your doctor will tell you how to take it and what to do if you have any problems. For example, if you can’t sleep because your mind is racing or if you aren’t concentrating because you are distracted by things around you, the doctor will suggest adjusting the dose of your medicine to get you back on track.